injured worker in wheelchair working with counselorIn most cases, the maximum amount of time for which you can receive workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury is 500 weeks. This does not mean, however, that every claimant in Virginia gets 500 weeks’ worth of benefits. Your employer’s insurance company, which actually pays workers’ comp benefits, is in business to make money and will want to get you back to work as soon as possible in order to stop paying you. In some cases, the insurer might try to deny your claim altogether and give you no benefits at all. When this happens, you need a workers’ comp attorney.

Types of Virginia Workers’ Comp Benefits

Most Virginia employers with three or more workers on the payroll must carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides no-fault coverage of employees’ accidental work-related injuries. Workers’ comp covers all medical expenses and provides approximately two-thirds of the wages you lose while off work for treatment and recovery after a work-related accident. You don’t have to prove that your employer did anything wrong to cause your accident, and you can’t be fired for filing a claim. The number of weeks for which you receive benefits depends in part upon how seriously and for how long your work injury disables you.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

If your injury allows you to perform a light-duty job that pays less than your previous position did, workers’ comp will provide two-thirds of the difference between your previous salary and your current salary until you can return to your regular job.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD)

If your injury prevents you from performing any available job for your employer, you’ll receive two-thirds of your salary until your doctor releases you to return to work.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

The length of time for which you receive benefits depends on the impairment rating that your physician assigns you according to the nature of your disability and how it impacts your ability to work. If you lose or lose the use of one or more body parts, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act entitles you to a certain number of benefit weeks, depending on the specific body part lost. Examples include:

  • Hand. 150 weeks
  • Finger. 15-35 weeks
  • Toe. 10-30 weeks
  • Thumb. 60 weeks
  • Eye. 100 weeks
  • Ear. 50 weeks
  • Arm. 200 weeks
  • Leg. 175 weeks
  • Disfigurement. 50 weeks or less
  • Byssinosis (brown lung). 50 weeks
  • Pneumoconiosis. 50-300 weeks.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

If you should lose the use of multiple body parts in one accident, become paralyzed, or suffer a debilitating traumatic brain injury (TBI), you could be entitled to lifelong medical and wage benefits. Such a claim, however, is a very expensive one the insurer is likely to fight, in which case you’ll require the services of an attorney to obtain the benefits you need for the maximum amount of time possible.

What to Do If You’re Injured on the Job

As soon as possible after your accidental injury, report it in writing to your supervisor. Your employer should notify its insurer and file a First Report of Injury (FROI) with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWCC). You may then submit a Claim for Benefits form, which is available on the VWCC website’s “Injured Worker” page. The Commission will evaluate your claim and notify you of its decision.

Meanwhile, your next step is to seek medical care from a physician approved by the insurance company. Follow this doctor’s treatment plan to the letter, keeping all appointments and taking all medications as prescribed. When you’ve reached the stage of maximum medical improvement (MMI), your doctor might release you to return to your old position or give you restrictions that require a light-duty job. If such a job is offered, you must attempt to do it; otherwise, you could damage your claim.

When You Need a Lawyer

You should contact a workers’ comp lawyer immediately under any of the following circumstances:

  • The insurance company asks you for a statement about your accidental injury.
  • Your claim is denied.
  • You’re given an insufficient number of weeks to receive benefits.
  • You’re not satisfied with your doctor or your treatment.
  • You cannot perform the job you’re given.
  • You experience any retaliation from your employer.
  • You do get timely wage payments.
  • You do not receive timely approval for necessary medical treatment. 

Your attorney will be familiar with all aspects of Virginia workers’ comp law, including the number of benefit weeks you should receive for your injury. Your lawyer can also keep you in compliance with all deadlines and other procedural requirements, counter the insurer’s delay tactics, and represent you at a VWCC hearing or in appeals court if your claim is denied or your number of benefit weeks is insufficient. 

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